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On November 7, 2016, the eve of the U.S. presidential election, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel discussion entitled “Immigration and the Left” at the University of Illinois at Chicago [UIC]. Moderated by Joseph Estes of Platypus, the event posed three questions to the panelists: How has the Left approached the question of immigration historically? What opportunities exist in the immigrants’ rights movement today for a renewed emancipatory politics? What role can left-wing civil and political organizations play in immigration politics? Three speakers addressed these questions: Jorge Mujica, seasoned activist and the Strategic Campaigns Organizer for Arise Chicago; Ralph Cintron, professor of English and Latino and Latin American Studies at UIC; and Jacqueline Stevens, professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.

Held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on November 7, 2016.

Panelists:

Ralph Cintron, professor of English and Latino and Latin American Studies at UIC
Jorge Mujica, Chicago Socialist Campaign and Moviemiento 10 de Marzo
Jacqueline Stevens, professor of Political Science at Northwestern

Description:

Neo-liberalism, as the current organization of capitalism, promised to overcome the crisis of the Keynesian-Fordist states through the attainment of a free, cosmopolitan society. Yet, the weight of national borders continues to be felt. While capital can easily move to a home where it is profitable, workers find their movement more stifled. From Brexit to the US presidential elections, immigration has become unavoidable in political discourse: some politicians have promised comprehensive immigration reform, while others have considered the undocumented culpable for the decline of the nation's economy and sovereignty. In each case, a crisis of Neo-liberalism is registered - but what is the meaning of the question to the Left and its attempts to change the world? 

Famously, the Communist Manifesto says "the working men have no country." The incessant drive to realize profit sends capital all over the world, uprooting established relations and dynamizing the global economy. Workers are forced to consider themselves internationally in the fight against capital. Further, immigration might even centralize the gravediggers of capitalism.

However, if this process is not grasped by the workers, it offers an opportunity for the capitalists to secure their reign. The precarity of immigrants can be exploited by the ruling class to split the proletariat and contain their political struggle - that is, unless there is a Left to lead. 

Questions:

  1. How has the Left approached the question of immigration historically? What opportunities exist in the immigrant rights movement today for an emancipatory politics? 
  2. How has immigration related to other demands made by the Left?
  3. What role can Left organizations - civil and/or political - play in immigration politics?

On October 16, 2008, a panel discussion titled What is a Movement? A Discussion on the Meaning and Direction of Left Political “Movements” Historically and Today was held in Chicago. The panelists were Luis Brennan of the new Students for a Democratic Society, Elena Davis of Pomegranate Health Collective, Chuck Hendricks of UNITE/HERE, Jorge Mujica of Movimiento 10 de Marzo, and Richard Rubin of Platypus.

Transcript in Platypus Review #14:

"The desire for revolution cannot be born only when the situation is ripe, because among the conditions for this ripeness are the revolutionary demands made of an unripe reality."
-- Leszek Kolakowski

"But it is absurd to think of a purely 'objective' foresight. The person who has foresight in reality has a 'programme' that he wants to see triumph, and foresight is precisely an element of this triumph."
-- Antonio Gramsci

"The socialist order of society is not prevented by world history; it is historically possible. But it will not be realized by a logic that is immanent to history but by men trained in theory and determined to make things better. Otherwise, it will not be realized at all."
-- Max Horkheimer

". . . every shortcoming in historical duty increases the necessary disorder and prepares more serious catastrophes."
-- Antonio Gramsci

Panelists

Luis Brennan (new Students for a Democratic Society),
Elena Davis (Pomegranate Health Collective),
Chuck Hendricks (UNITE/HERE),
Jorge Mujica (Movimiento 10 de Marzo),
and Richard Rubin (Platypus)

Information session for organizers of the May 1, 2008 International Workers' Day demonstration in Chicago, held on April 23rd, 2008 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Panelists:
Tania Unzueta, May 1st Youth;
Jorge Mujica, Movimiento 10 de Marzo; and
Shaun Harkin, International Socialist Organization

Co-sponsored by the Students for a Democratic Society and the Platypus Affiliated Society